Why is it that while I love being a mom I feel like I’m constantly losing the battle of balancing life and being a “good” mom? Oh yeah, thats right…this is that thing they never tell you about in the baby books—mother’s guilt. WTFarfanooger! Am I allowed to say that? Geez! I constantly feel like I’m losing in the game of motherhood. When I worked full time I pretty much got to the point of a nervous breakdown because I was spending all my time working. It got to the point where (and this is no exaggeration), if I got to see my kids for 1 hour a day that was a lot. Most nights I was lucky if I got home in time to give them a bath and put them to bed. So I switched jobs thinking I could balance it better and to my disappointment I was in a worse off position. That’s when it got really ugly and anxiety decided to break me down. So then I decided to make a career change to do something I was still wildly passionate about but would allow me more flexibility in my schedule so I could be with my kids.
Well now that I have all this time with them I still feel like a crappy mom. Why, you ask? For one, being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating, especially for an extrovert like me. So if you’re like me, you get involved in school to be more involved in your kid’s life and to just get out of the house, but that quickly starts to take more time than imagined. I thought I was finally doing what I thought a mom is suppose to do. And then another wrench gets thrown my way and a big decision needs to be made—what do you do with your kid from 2pm until 4:30pm when you have to drive 20-40mins across town to pick up your other kid? My first thoughts were: sports or an after school program. But that costs money and takes even more time. And as it turns out, my kid hates it. So then I go looking for other options because I know if I just bring him home I’ll be fighting with the TV and the willpower not to cave into the evils of screen time just so I can get a little work done even if it’s domestic work. Because you know everyone out there says screen time is super bad so you don’t want to be “that” parent. Well guess what people? Sometimes I just am “that” parent…so you can take that! Ha! The truth is I’m not perfect and I know I’ll never be. Grrr…”But you need to be, you need to be.” says that annoying little voice inside my head. Soon I’m realizing that if I don’t just stop and breathe, I’ll never get that special time with my kids. Then I really start to feel bad because I’m starting to play the balancing act again. So when in the world am I suppose to be that perfect mom with the perfectly clean house and dinner on the table everyday be 6pm? Tell me please, pretty please can anyone tell me? Right now I barely have time to help with homework and ordering in or reheating a meal. So, as you could imagine, mother’s guilt starts to really set in and mommy starts to get moody and emotional. Booooo…
As if that wasn’t enough, it gets more complicated. Being the primary parent I have to give my kids all the love I can, but sadly I have to be the big disciplinarian in our home since daddy now has to suffer the crazy work schedule. I often hear “I love you mommy” or “you’re the best mommy ever,” which absolutely melts my heart and makes it all worth it. But more than that I hear “I don’t like you, you are the worst mommy ever.” Ugh, really, kids? Just because you didn’t get your way or perhaps you lost a privilege because you didn’t do your homework or you decided to punch your brother after I asked you ever so kindly and firmly to talk to each other and not hurt each other. Man, oh man, here comes “mother’s guilt” in to make me start questioning myself. “Are you really a terrible mom?” “Maybe google can help me?” I ask. Oh, here we go, this sounds great Positive Discipline. “Oh this sounds really good, perhaps now I can get the parent of the year award” I think to myself. After classes and reading (ok, skimming) the books, it still doesn’t seem to work in every scenario for me and my kids. Here we go again, my stomach hurts and my brain begins again, “something must be wrong with you woman, this is POSITIVE discipline. This is supposed to be the answer to everything.” Again I doubt myself, back to the internet I go searching and searching for all the right answers.
Then I finally realize that for the rest of my life I will be questioning everything I say and do as a parent. I will vow to say “never again” and find myself repeating mistakes. I know I will always have someone on the sidelines ready to tell me how wrong I’m doing it but hopefully (and I pray) I might also have someone applauding me. One can dream. I guess it’s all perspective and I think that as long as I know that then maybe it’ll all be ok. Honestly the biggest lessons I’m learning are not in books but in the realization of who I am and what I want to mean to my kids. I love them with every fiber of my being and only want the best in the world for them as any other parent would.
While I know this blog post seems somewhat negative, blah, perhaps someone out there will see that the cliche “the grass in not always greener” really applies here and as a parent in general it’s just not easy, no matter how you do it. However, I will say that the reward—while sometimes isn’t as evident as others—is watching your kids grow and being present throughout their lives in one way or another. I will admit that it used to really hurt me when the kids got hurt and they’d go running to daddy. Why wouldn’t they?…he was the parent who was primarily present. They don’t do that anymore. I may complain about it at times but it gives me great joy when they come running to me with their problems, needs or just for some cuddling. They don’t run to anyone else, just to me. They will more easily do things for me than anyone else and they still say I love you to the moon and back on the regular. So even when days are crappy I have great satisfaction in knowing this. Now, I just simply need to remind myself of those facts on the hard days because my kids really are worth it and honestly just like all the older generations have already told you: time does fly by.
To all my working mommas and stay at home mommas (or daddas), you’re doing great. You are doing the best you can do for your kids and that is all that one could ask for. Hang in there on your hard days and refer back to be to know you are not a lone. You are beautiful and wonderful and you have little eyes that will always look up to you and little arms that will always want to hug you simply because you are theirs.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this entry perhaps with a glass of wine. Maybe you related or maybe not. Either way I hope in some ways you were entertained and got a good laugh a my crazy neurotic self.